Gametocytogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro: the cell-cycle

Parasitology. 1979 Oct;79(2):277-96. doi: 10.1017/s003118200005335x.


Reproducible growth of gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro was obtained from ring-stages taken directly from naturally infected patients and from the same material following storage in liquid nitrogen. Progressive sexual differentiation in vitro was examined for a finite period of 9 days in microcultures and was, for convenience, divided into 5 stages using established morphological criteria (Hawking, Wilson & Gammage, 1971). This microculture system was adapted as a bioassay for various anti-metabolites. Drug activity was measured by observing the inhibition of the established pattern of sequential development in experimental as compared to control cultures. Inhibitors used were directed against DNA, RNA and protein metabolism and microtubule assembly. As a result of these studies it is proposed that the sexual cell-cycle of P. falciparum is characterized by 4 phases. (1) A G1 period which lasts only a few hours. (2) The S phase, where DNA synthesis occurs, occupies the remainder of the first 2 days of development - both G1 and S are confined to stage I and II gametocytes. (3) G2, which is subdivided into 2 sections: G2A, characterized by stage II and III gametocytes, in which significant RNA and protein synthesis continue to occur; and G2B, where there is a progressive increase in transcription control resulting in the depression of both RNA and protein synthesis. Nonetheless, continued morphological differentiation occurs in the latter section transforming the parasites to stage IV and the morphologically and functionally mature stage V. The final M phase is marked by the brief and exposive events of gametogenesis, during which further protein synthesis occurs de novo. The proposed cell-cycle is examined as a model for studies on the activity of gametocytocidal compounds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Infant
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Mitomycins / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*


  • Antimetabolites
  • Mitomycins